Walking Wanchai

Wanchai is ofcourse one of the classic Hong Kong regions. A blend of the new and the old. A place where everybody is usually rushing around. Grabbing a meal on the walk is pretty normal and acceptable.

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The trams are what give Hong Kong Island’s streets a lot of its charm. And, like the tram on the cover image, they are often vibrantly colored, giving the streets a real splash of color. However, on this day, I saw several trams just stationary on the streets with nobody on board. Puzzling. This never happens. As I walked further I discovered that there was a fire raging in one of the old buildings bordering Wanchai and Causeway Bay. People were gathering to observe and ofcourse get some pictures. I resisted the temptation – didn’t want to interfere with the work of the firefighters and police and somehow I just can’t get myself to document the misery of others. Especially, in a case like this where you don’t have a more “noble” objective such as highlighting some trouble to gather public support. So I moved on and called it a day.

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Causeway Bay, Leica and the power of red!

The public transport photo in one of my previous blog posts was taken from the pedestrian flyover pictured above. This spot is also a nice spot from where to take photos of vehicles as they round the curves. But what looks interesting to the eye often comes out as dull and boring in camera. But sometimes, when there’s a splash of red, things do come out slightly more interesting.

Mamiya 7ii at the fair

In a prior post, I had posted some photos taken with a Zeiss Ikon rangefinder at a fair that had come to Hong Kong. I had also taken a Mamiya 7ii medium format film camera with a Mamiya 7N 80mm f/4L. This is an absolutely amazing camera – 6×7 medium format, yet very portable (as far as cameras of this ilk go). Like all medium format film photography, its a bit expensive to use given only 10 exposures can be made from a 120 roll of film.

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But there’s something about the results derived from this camera and its lenses that is just very very pleasing. The sharpness, pop, contrast and smoothness of bokeh is something just not possible from any 35mm camera. And the Mamiya 6 or 7 are right up there with the best medium format cameras ever made. Like all tools, the results really depend on the artist and I would not recommend this to any beginner. Its just too expensive a way to learn. Learn film photography with a 35mm camera.

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These photos were really just snapshots and my first real experience with this camera since I bought it. But now, I feel confident to use this on a more regular basis. All these photos were shot on the Fuji Pro 160 NS color negative film, which is brilliant. It may not be as accurate as the Kodak Portra 160 but its not wild and I prefer the vibrancy of the Fuji Pro 160 NS to the more neutral portra.

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Hong Kong Streets

Hong Kong’s streets are great to generally wander about taking photos.  March is a particularly nice time because its not so hot and humid and yet the cold of Dec/ Jan has lifted.

Lately, I’ve been using the Leica MP (Type 240) on my walkabouts. Coupled with the 35mm Summilux, its a great combination. The above photo was taken in Central, just opposite Fringe Club. The photo also brings up an interesting topic – on sharpness and grain. This photo is far from sharp, its actually quite blurry because of the slow shutter speed (1/15 sec). But that was a deliberate decision in order to create the right atmosphere. I think this photo would have looked quite boring as a super sharp image and without the car behind. Likewise, the grain adds to the atmosphere of the night photo.

The two photos below, were taken in Causeway Bay, on a Saturday afternoon. Probably amongst the busiest locations in HK at its busiest of times. I have seen this guy several times at the same location. And doing the same thing – holding an advertising board and busy with his phone.

Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

I have no idea who this character is! But its quite impactful and there were obviously hordes of people taking selfies and photos with it.

Who is this?  - Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

Holi in Hong Kong

Holi has got to be the most fun festival in the world.  It’s such a blast for the whole family.  It is always a bit of a toss up with the weather –  unlike India, it does not fully warm up here.  But today even though the day began cool, by mid-day the sun was out and made it perfect for a wet Holi.  We joined a Holi party being organised at Chung Hom Kok beach.  It was quite something and there were almost 2,000 people there.  I had taken the Olympus TG-3.  I did think about a fancier camera but haven taken those in earlier years, this year I wanted to get in the middle of the action without any real worries.  So the TG-3, which is waterproof was perfect for the job.  

I was quite amazed by the quality of the photos – all taken in iAuto mode.  Ofcourse, there’s a certain amount of post processing but its all standard Lightroom stuff.  Total time for 50+ photos? Less than 15 minutes!  And that included selecting the 50 from over 150 photos to begin with.

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Hong Kong from the air

My job involves a lot of flying. I always try to get the window seat for the views. Hong Kong is often shrouded by fog and pollution haze but there are a couple of months, around June and July, when the skies are incredibly clear. And during this time, Hong Kong is simply the most beautiful city in the world from the sky.

These two photos were taken in June 2013 on my iPhone 5 and processed using Snapseed.
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Sony A7R + Leica 35 Summilux: Wow!

To my eyes – and I have not done any scientific tests to confirm it – the Sony A7R has the best dynamic range of any camera that I have used. While I loved my Canon 5d2 (sold) for its “will never fail me, no matter what the circumstance” character and still love the Olympus OM-D EM-5 for its versatility, none of them yield RAW files that have the same malleability. Combine this with the sharpness of the Leica 35 Summilux and you have a cracker of a walkabout combination. It’s light and has stunning resolution!

Take this photo for example. The amount of detail I managed to recover from the highlight and the amount I have been able to push the deep shadows is just incredible. This was a strongly backlight seen and all the faces were rendered in deep shadow. Yet, after some minor Lightroom work, the photo is nicely balanced, with great color and contrast and very little noise.

More birds and Hong Kong Park

As I have said before, the Youde Aviary at Hong Kong Park. Went for a photo walk again a few weeks back. As always, I brought along the Olympus OM-D EM-5 and the Panasonic 100-300. Have I said before, that this is the ultimate combo (for my non Nat Geo needs) for bird photography. Up to 600mm reach, which can be hand-carried all day! Here are a couple of photos.

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